The Scottish Gamekeepers Association has called for closer monitoring of wind farm impacts on raptors such as golden and sea eagles.
The body pointed to research which indicated those species were at highest risk of mortality from turbine strikes and said a more rigorous code for checks around operational projects was required.
A Scottish Natural Heritage report earlier this year linked shooting estates to the disappearance of a number of eagles over the past 12 years.
SGA it said it was “not convinced by the wind farm element” of the report at the time but did not want to distract from the condemnation of illegal behaviour.
It added: “By speaking out there will be people all too ready to damn us but… we see it as our duty to defend our members’ right not to be assumed as guilty until proven innocent for the disappearance of every bird that flies over a moor in Scotland, when other factors may or may not be at play. By agreeing codes for monitoring, there would be greater transparency.”
Image: Darren Danks